A couple of weeks ago I participated in my first panel as part of the University of Toronto’s Rotman Commerce Marketing Association’s 2013 Marketing Summit. It was a great experience and I enjoyed engaging with the students and my fellow panelists.
The topic was ‘The Future of Marketing’. This seems to be a very popular topic. The Canadian Marketing Association is holding their national convention in June of the same title. Why so much intrigue in this subject and why is it so important for us to know? I believe it is because things are changing so fast and the speed of technology is causing so much chaos that it leaves most marketers throwing their hands in the air saying, “What do I do now?”
I can write you a book on what I believe is the future of marketing but if I can distill it to one main point and what I told the Rotman students, it is this: The future of marketing is a place where customers are part of a brand’s campaign. They are a part of it so much so that they help shape, define and steer where it goes. Some marketers feel that social is all about having a conversation with their customers but it is so much more than that. Social breaks down the walls that separates customers with brands and allows the customer to take a seat in the boardroom if they choose to.
Customers are tired of boring marketing campaigns. They are fed up with what brands think they want. They want a voice and they want to be heard. I shared two examples with the Rotman students. The first was McDonald’s ‘Our Food. Your Questions.’ campaign.
Last year Macdonald’s created a digital platform that allowed the public to ask questions about the company’s food and how it’s made. It’s was an attempt to bust myths around the food in a transparent way, and it’s left other brands and agencies marveling at its simple and somewhat brave approach since it launched in June. The campaign lives at McDonalds.ca/YourQuestions where visitors can submit questions after logging in through their Facebook or Twitter account. Through this campaign the brand created content based on customers questions and it was a beautiful fusion of social and market research blended into one intricate customer centric approach.
The second example I shared was My Starbucks Idea; a site where users can pitch an idea to Starbucks that they should implement. People can vote on the idea and add to it. One of the most popular ideas implemented was the splash stick that goes in your coffee lid stopping you from getting splashed as you walk with your coffee. Starbucks allowing customers to be part of product development and marketing has made the company better and develop products that customers are asking for.
The future of marketing is now. We are living in a time with so much opportunity to create campaigns that could never have been produced before. I’m really excited and I hope you are inspired to stop doing the ‘tried and true’, take a risk and let your customers be a part of your campaign.